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Obtaining Dutch citizenship
For those who are not born as a Dutch national, there are two ways to obtain Dutch citizenship: through naturalization and the option procedure.
If you have resided in the Netherlands for an uninterrupted period of five years and have passed the civic integration exam you may qualify for Dutch citizenship. There are exceptions to the five years requirement, for example for those who have been married to a Dutch national for at least three years.
In principle, Dutch law aims to prevent dual citizenship. Hence one of the requirements is that you renounce your original nationality after becoming a Dutch citizen. However, if your country of origin does not allow you to give up your nationality or if you are married to or in a registered partnership with a Dutch national, you do not need to give up your other nationality.
The option procedure is available to people who already have ties with the Netherlands that go beyond residing in the Netherlands. For example, people who were born as a Dutch national and lost it over time due to dual citizenship, those who were born in the Netherlands and have resided here ever since, adults who have resided in the Netherlands since they were 4 years old and spouses of Dutch citizens who have resided in the Netherlands for at least 15 years.
The option procedure is faster than the naturalization procedure and you do not need to pass the civic integration exam and in most cases renounce your other nationality.
Proposed changes to Dutch citizenship law
The Dutch government has proposed a change to the Dutch Citizenship Act. If this proposal is accepted, the naturalization term will be changed from five years to seven years. Spouses will also no longer be able to apply for Dutch citizenship while residing abroad.
The bill has been passed by Dutch parliament, but the Dutch Senate has not approved it yet and the proposal has therefore not taken effect yet.
Permanent residence permit
After five years of legal residency in the Netherlands, you may qualify for a permanent (indefinite) residence permit. There are two types of permanent residence permits: the Dutch permanent residence permit and the EC permanent residence permit which is issued under specific EU-regulations.
Five years of uninterrupted residence
Both types of permanent residence permits require that you have legally resided in the Netherlands for an uninterrupted period of at least five years. If you have a residence gap (a period of time without a valid residence permit), the five years will be interrupted and the time spent in the Netherlands before the residence gap will not count.
For the EC permanent residence permit, you should have resided in the Netherlands on the basis of a non-temporary residence permit. Years that you resided in the Netherlands with a residence permit for a temporary purpose (for example: the ICT-permit, the orientation year permit and the trainee permit) do not count, with the exception of years that you spent here as a student: these count for 0.5.
For the Dutch permanent residence permit, the last permit that you hold should be a non-temporary one. It does not matter what type of permit you held before.
Civic integration exam
Civic integration requirements apply for a Dutch or EC permanent residence permit. There are some narrowly defined exceptions to this rule.
Sufficient means of income
In principle, you should have sufficient means of income and this income should be available to you for at least one year. If you have an employment contract that is valid for at least one year and you earn sufficient income, you should meet this criteria. However, if your situation is different, it may be worthwhile to check if your circumstances would pass the test.
The permanent residence permit provides you with an independent right to reside in the Netherlands. You are no longer dependent on your employment situation or your family situation. The EC permanent residence permit has the additional benefit of increased mobility within the EU. You do not need to choose between the two types of permits: if you submit an application for a permanent residence permit, the Dutch immigration Authorities will by default assess if you are entitled to the EC permanent residence permit.
Bringing family members over to the Netherlands can be a challenging matter. Under certain conditions, your family members can join you when you move to the Netherlands. The specific requirements depend on your nationality, the type of residence permit that you hold or apply for and the nationality of your family members.
In general, spouses, registered partners and children under the age of 18 are eligible for family reunification. Unmarried partners and same-sex partners can also apply. Other family members, such as children aged 18 years or above or parents, may under strict circumstances also qualify to join you.
The Dutch authorities have set certain income requirements to guarantee that you can support your family members. In general, you should earn at least € 1660,18 gross monthly to be able to sponsor your family members. If you do not meet this threshold, EU law may help you as EU law dictates that family reunification should be facilitated and that governments cannot set income requirements that are too strict.
Civic integration exam
If your family members need a provisional residence permit (MVV) to enter the Netherlands, in principle they will also need to pass the civic integration exam before they can apply for the family permit. There are some exemptions, such as family members of Highly Skilled Migrants.
Duration of residence permit
In most cases, the residence permit of the family member will have the same validity as the residence permit of the sponsor. In some cases, the residence permit will be valid for five years, for example when the sponsor is a Dutch national or holds a permanent residence permit. The residence permit can be renewed.
As a European citizen, you can enjoy rights to free movement to reside and work in the Netherlands. For a stay of three months or less, a valid form of identification such as a passport is the only requirement. For a stay longer than three months, free movement rights can be enjoyed if you are (self-)employed, looking for a job, a student or if you have sufficient means to support yourself.
If you are planning to reside in the Netherlands for longer than four months, you are required to register at the municipality within five days after your arrival. Not doing so will not have any consequences for your residence rights in the Netherlands, however a fine can be imposed. If you plan to be in the Netherlands for less than four months, you are not required to register at the municipality but you are allowed to do so in order to obtain a Citizen Service Number (‘BSN’).
Family members (including non-EU family members) can enjoy the same rights and obtain legal residency and access to work in the Netherlands. This applies to your spouse, (registered) partner and children under the age of 21. Other family members can join you when they are dependent on you financially and/or emotionally, which is narrowly defined. To enter the Netherlands, your non-EU spouse, partner or children may require a visa, but this visa should be granted for free and in a speedy manner. A temporary authorization to stay (MVV or D-type visa) is not required.
Your family members can reside in the Netherlands longer than three months if you are (self-) employed or if you can show that you have sufficient means to support your family members and have taken out a health insurance policy. You should also substantiate your relationship with your family members, for example by submitting documents such as birth- or marriage certificates. For spouses and children this will not be too problematic, but for unmarried partners the burden of proof may require some extra efforts.
Croatian nationals can reside in the Netherlands without needing a residence permit, just like other EU nationals. To perform work as an employee, a work permit is needed, however. Performing work as a self-employed person is allowed, but it is crucial that there is no disguised employment.
As long as the United Kingdom has not completed Brexit, British nationals remain EU citizens. The position of British citizens in the Netherlands after Brexit is yet unsure. We advise British citizens who wish to reside in the Netherlands for a longer period of time to carefully consider their options and to make sure that accrued rights are safeguarded. If you are eligible for a permanent residence permit, it may be worthwhile to apply for this type of permit.
EU, EER and Switzerland
The abovementioned rights of residence and work apply equally to (non-EU) EER country citizens (Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland) and Swiss citizens.
The member states of the EU are (currently): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
There are two types of residence permits for self-employed persons: the start-up permit and the self-employed permit. The start-up permit requires partnering up with a facilitator. For companies that do not have a business plan yet and who are in the process of developing their idea into a business, the start-up permit may be a good option. For established companies who do not require the services of a facilitator, the self-employed permit may be a better fit.
To be eligible for the self-employed permit, you need to meet certain requirements. You should have sufficient means to support yourself, your business should serve an essential Dutch interest and depending on your profession additional requirements may apply.
The essential Dutch interest is assessed with a points-based system. This points-based assessment does not apply to Turkish nationals or to holders of an EU permanent residence permit for long-term residents. Turkish nationals will need to show that their company serves an essential Dutch interest. For American and Japanese nationals more favourable assessments can take place on the basis of bilateral treaties.
If you are not an American, Japanese, Turkish or EU long-term resident, you will need to score sufficient points in the following categories: personal experience, business plan and added value for the Netherlands. You should score at least 30 points in each category, or at least 45 points in the first two categories. Work experience, a high education and previous experience with the Netherlands will score points in the first category, a good market analysis and solid finances will help to award points in the second category and in the third category you can score points with the creation of labour, with investments and high level of innovation.
Duration of residence permit
The residence permit will be valid for two years maximum and can be extended. The administrative charge for the self-employed permit is currently € 1296,-.
Innovative entrepreneurs entering the market in the Netherlands may find their immigration solution in a start-up permit.
Citizens of the EU/EEA and Switzerland do not need a residence permit to work as a self-employed person and American and Japanese nationals may find a solution in treaty based permits. For all other nationalities the start-up permit may be worth considering.
To be eligible for the start-up permit, the product or service that you intend to develop needs to be innovative. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) will assess the innovative value of your product or service. If you work with specific corporate social responsibility, have a creative market approach or an original approach to environmental or sustainability issues, this may increase your chances of obtaining a start-up permit.
Another important requirement is that you should partner with a reliable facilitator. This facilitator will provide you with services such as (access to) coaching, technology, research, business premises and/or finances. Examples of facilitators are accelerators and incubators. The facilitator should have at least two years’ experience in guiding start-ups, should be financially sound and cannot be related to you as a family member. The facilitator may not have a majority share in your company.
You should have sufficient means to support yourself for the duration of your residence in the Netherlands. The current minimum is 1162,13 euro per month for single persons. Someone else, even your facilitator, can also fund your stay.
You will be required to submit a step-by-step plan, detailing which activities you will undertake in the first year, what your role in the start-up will be and which innovative product or service you will develop.
Other requirements are registering at the Chamber of Commerce and taking out health insurance.
Duration residence permit
The start-up residence permit is valid for one year. You cannot renew this permit and should therefore apply for another type of permit if you wish to stay in the Netherlands. With a statement from your facilitator, you can bypass the rigid assessment scheme of the standard self-employed permit and only need to meet several less rigid requirements.
The administrative charge for the start-up permit is currently € 311,-.
Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT)
The Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation, also called ‘Dutch American Friendship Treaty’, between the United States of America and the Netherlands, allows American entrepreneurs to set up their own business and make use of favorable regulations to work and reside in the Netherlands.
The treaty sets a low threshold for American citizens to obtain legal residency in the Netherlands in order to work as a self-employed entrepreneur. The main requirements include having a company, most commonly in the form of a sole proprietorship, Dutch limited liability company (BV) or a partnership and a minimal capital investment of € 4,500 in a Dutch business bank. DAFT permits are renewable and typically issued for a duration of two years. A business plan is not a required document for this application.
Partners and children can obtain residence permits as well.
We assist American nationals with the complete process from start to permit. We recommend that you seek tax counsel before you set up a business and apply for residency in the Netherlands. We work in close collaboration with reliable tax partners as part of our full-fledged DAFT-assistance.
The Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between Japan and the Netherlands, allows Japanese entrepreneurs to set up their own business and make use of favorable regulations to work and reside in the Netherlands.
The treaty sets a low threshold for Japanese citizens to obtain legal residency in the Netherlands in order to work as a self-employed entrepreneur. The main requirements include having a company, most commonly in the form of a sole proprietorship, Dutch limited liability company (BV) or a partnership and a minimal capital investment of EUR 4.500 in a Dutch business bank. Self-employed permits are renewable and typically issued for a duration of two years. A business plan is not a required document for this application.
Partners and children can obtain residence permits as well.
We assist Japanese nationals with the complete process from start to permit. We recommend that you seek tax counsel before you set up a business and apply for residency in the Netherlands. We work in close collaboration with reliable tax partners as part of our full-fledged legal assistance.
Due to the Association Agreement between Turkey and the European Union, Turkish nationals enjoy certain rights and privileges.
If a Turkish national wishes to perform work as a self-employed person, the more rigorous point-based system does not apply. Instead, the entrepreneur must show that the company serves an essential Dutch interest. We advise Turkish nationals to provide the Immigration Services with a solid business plan, showing that the company is viable and does not interfere with the Dutch labor market. If you hand in a complete application, no MVV visa is required and you will be able to submit the application in the Netherlands.
If a Turkish national wishes to perform paid employment, no (recognized) sponsor is required. To obtain a Highly Skilled Migrant permit, the Turkish national therefore does not need to be employed by a company with recognized sponsorship status.
Due to a ‘standstill’ clause in the Association Agreement certain requirements do not apply, such as the requirement to pass the civic integration exam which is particularly interesting to those who want to apply for permanent residency. We assist Turkish nationals with their work- and residence permits and are happy to explore all options to provide you with the best possible solution to your immigration needs.